Shouldn't that be an oxymoron?

Pretty much by definition, web surfing and being task-oriented don't go together. One is open-ended, while the other is defined by the need to achieve a pre-determined goal. By calling upon the illusory concept of multi-tasking, however, we just may be able to get them to find some common ground. Multi-tasking, of course, is the supposed ability to be occupied with numerous tasks at one and the same time. Do I multi-task when I surf the web? If we assume that all I'm doing is simply clicking on links, probably not. On the other hand, if we understand that my incessant clicking represents an attempt to collect material on a wide variety of not necessarily related topics, then it's fair to say that I'm simultaneously working on a number of tasks. It's reasoning of this sort that's allowed me convince myself that rather than scurrying helter-skelter from topic to topic, from search to search, what I'm really doing is constantly refining of my focus, redefining and enriching, my goals, and even gaining new perspectives on them. If that's not multi-tasking, what is?

Some people know just what it is they're supposed to achieve, and can thus pursue a goal on a straight and narrow path. I usually can only really identify what my goal was when I reach it, when that proverbial light bulb lights up above my head and I say "Yes! that's what I intended!". And when that light bulb goes off, it suddenly all makes sense. It becomes clear that all the flitting and alighting from link to link has actually had a "purpose", has been connected as part of some previously not perceived master plan, has really been part of the same task.

When we look at our web surfing from this perspective, we can claim that we haven't been dealing with a random collection of scattered thoughts and issues, but instead have truly been focused on a specific task. Sometimes I'm able to convince myself that that's precisely what I'm doing in a particular Boidem column, and sometimes, no matter how much I try, I know I'm fooling myself. As associative as I pride myself on being, more than only occasionally there's an unfathomable leap of faith involved in tying certain elements together.

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